Repression Up As Flood Of Cash Inundates Cuba
Cuba: As U.S. Chamber of Commerce solons junket to Havana and call for trade with Cuba, arrests of dissidents there have hit a 10-year high, with a record 1,100 this month alone. Seems cash inflows make the regime meaner.
Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is the latest prominent U.S. visitor to travel to the Castro brothers’ shambling socialist hellhole to praise their so-called economic reforms as “a good start” and to call for an end to the 52-year-old trade embargo.
“We’re very pleased to be here,” Donohue said, according to the Associated Press. “We’re learning a lot about the changes taking place in Cuba,” he added, suggesting that change is coming to the rigid communist tyranny.
They’re changing, all right — not so much in the establishment of the occasional private button seller or car-repair cooperative (one of which Donohue toured)or even private media outlet (swiftly shut down by regime hackers last week) touted by Donohue — but in the flood of cash that’s inundated Cuba in recent years.
Like a tag team, President Obama has loosened key provisions of the U.S. trade embargo to permit cash remittances along with existing trade in food and medicine and new kinds of tourism, while Cuba’s cash patron, Venezuela, has sent gifts, investments and loans, according to a new study by the U.S.-based Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy.
Legal U.S. trade to Cuba came to $506 million in 2012, according to Commerce Department data, down from $962 million in 2008, but still more than half a billion a year. Cash remittances to Cuba that same year — mostly from the U.S. — soared to $2.6 billion, according to a study by the Havana Consulting Group, which reported that the remittances were the largest element of support for Cuba’s retail sector — and more even than Cuba earns from sugar, tourism, nickel or pharmaceuticals.
Then there’s tourism, now permitted by the Obama administration, ostensibly for family visits and educational purposes, which amounts to expatriate and leftist travel, in the neighborhood of another $2 billion a year.
All of these lifelines rolling in to the Castro regime have had a noticeable effect: A harder state hand against Cuba’s beleaguered democracy campaigners.
Political arrests in Cuba hit a record 1,120 in May, with 1,000-plus tallies for each month of 2014, putting the regime on pace for 12,000 arrests of dissidents this year, twice the amount for over the past two years.
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